WHEN two youngsters from Bradford receive a letter from the future pleading for help, they must leap into action before an old enemy gets there first.

M.I.C.E and the Future is the third novel by Wilsden author William Coniston in a series aimed at young readers aged eight to 13.

The M.I.C.E in question is an ancient secret organisation protecting birds and animals from harm done by humans that dates back to Medieval times. And it bestows its highest honour, Life President, on Her Majesty the Queen, when she makes a dramatic intervention in this latest book.

“Full details of what she did are secret,” says the author, Geoffrey Downs (William Coniston is his pen name). “But children from eight upwards and adults who are young at heart can find out by reading M.I.C.E. and the Future - if they don’t mind reading a scary novel, that is...”

The Queen has already appeared in an earlier story in the series and is one of the few humans who know of M.I.C.E. and how much the country owes to it. She also knows the four children - Olly and Tilly Peterson and Kiran and Daniel Akram, all Honorary Members of the M.I.C.E. Council, who face danger in this latest adventure, an ideal school holiday read.

In the novel, Olly and Tilly receive a letter from the future which predicts that something terrible will happen years later at a place they know well on the North Yorkshire coast. The youngsters then learn that an old enemy is at work - but how is this possible, since he’s currently in prison? Mysteries deepen, leading Olly, Tilly, Kiran and Daniel into time travel and deadly peril, along with some small but talented creatures from M.I.C.E.

Standing alone against evil forces that threaten the whole country and the world beyond, surely four children, a dog, three mice, a rabbit and a budgie stand no chance at all?

The previous two novels in the series are M.I.C.E. and the Stone (published in 2016) and M.I.C.E. and the Dragon Worm (2017). In the first book the children battle evil enemies from the past and in the second they come up against a world-wide cyber-attack.

The action in all the books takes place mainly in West and North Yorkshire, with much of the focus on Scar Bay, a fictitious seaside resort near Whitby. “It’s Robin Hoods Bay, thinly disguised,” says the author. “It’s a place I love and where I often go to write because the North Yorkshire coast is full of history and inspiration.

“Even the covers of the novels, by Bradford artists Matilda Downs and Carl Moore, have a common theme of the view across the bay towards Ravenscar.”

William Coniston has been writing all his life, “but mainly boring legal documents”. Now he finds writing novels much more fun, and sales of his young people’s novels have reached America.

He also writes poetry and on National Poetry Day last year was featured with other local poets on the big screen on Bradford’s Big Screen in Centenary Square in a film made with support from Bradford Libraries and Bradford City of Film.

* All three M.I.C.E novels are stocked at Salts Mill, Wilsden Community Post Office, Bradford Libraries, the Whitby Bookshop and other independent bookshops in the region, and are available from Amazon.

* Visit williamconiston@gmail.com

Emma Clayton

* The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods by Emily Barr, published by Penguin, £7.99.

ARTY is 16, raised at The Clearing in the forests of south India. Surrounded by everyone she’s ever known, she has never stepped off the compound to experience life in the modern world. That is until an illness sweeps through her home, all those around her fall sick and start to die, and she and her five-year-old brother leave everything behind and go to the city for help. Barr has woven two very different tales together, one of seclusion and corruption, another of wide-eyed discovery. The themes are complex but well handled. A story for modern times. Rachel Howdle.